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All the best: Ciaran Scullion on his favourite things

By Kerry McKittrick

The 30-year-old is the head of music for the Northern Ireland Arts Council. He lives in Co Armagh with his wife, Christina, and they have one daughter, Feah (3).

My best moment

Marrying Christina five years ago. We were childhood sweethearts and have known each other since school. We got married in our home town of Lurgan.

My best job

I’ve had a varied career — I studied music at Queen’s University, Belfast, and also played piano for the Ulster Orchestra and taught. I went to work for the Ulster Orchestra and the Ulster Youth Choir. I’ve been head of music at the Arts Council since 2013. I’m really enjoying the challenge and it’s a privilege to be able to work with some of the finest artists and musicians from around the world.

My best song

I have an eclectic taste, so one day it could be an opera aria then the next it will be Handel’s Ombre Mai Fu which is gorgeous. Mind you, the next day it could be Nina Simone or Bob Marley. It really depends on what mood I’m in.

My best way to relax

I’m a classically trained pianist, so classical music is my thing. So I would just sit down and listen or play 20th century French music and I rediscover it each time I listen or play. I’m also partial to a glass of Rioja and as a family we like to travel quite a bit.

My best advice

My wife always says this — to enjoy the little things because one day you’ll look back and realise they were the big things. When life gets busy we both always try to remember that.  I think my wife’s mum gave her that advice and she has passed it on to me.

My best gift

It’s a 1940s Danemann upright piano that my grandfather gave to me in the early 1990s after I demonstrated some promise as a young learner.

It’s been the instrument I practise on ever since. It has such a rich tone given how old it is — I would be loath to get rid of it because of the sentimental value.

My best achievement

Personally, it’s been creating our family — we’re expecting our second child any day now. Professionally, it’s been leading some of the UK’s largest and award-winning youth music projects. In my current job I’m fortunate to be nurturing and developing the music sector in Northern Ireland.

My best buy

Our home — which we have renovated and refurbished and put our own stamp onto. We live on the shores of Lough Neagh and it’s wonderful to have a place that’s really ours.

My best book

I really like thrillers so I’m a big fan of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. I also like horror so I go for Stephen King or James Herbert. I don’t get a lot of time to read,though, with work and family so I tend to save up books for when I go on holiday.

My best film

I love the Hitchcock classic Psycho. It’s due to a combination of the chilling score by Bernard Herrmann and the amazing, suspenseful direction by Alfred Hitchcock. It feels just as fresh today as it was in the 1960s. I also like Gravity, the one with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. It’s a not-so subtle reminder as to how small we really are.

  • The Arts Council has just launched four new music tours around Northern Ireland. For information on Moving On Music, the Walled City Music Festival, Open House and An Gaelaras and An Droichead go to

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